By Roxann Yus | 29/11/22
We thrive on alternative here at white noise. It’s a selling point for us: it means you don’t abide by rules; in fact, you don’t think they exist at all. You can’t abide by something that doesn’t exist, and therefore, you create and enjoy something far removed from anything that doesn’t serve your vision. And that isn’t to say influences don’t exist, it’s to say that they don’t have any ruling power. You have.
And as you likely expect, a Christmas playlist at white noise. believes in this ethos too. Does a Christmas playlist have to say “Merry Christmas” to identify as one? Isn’t Christmas a feeling, and not a string of words, after all? And, of course, feelings differ. A song can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It can remind you of a special memory, such as a wholesome family Christmas when you were younger.
This year, Christmas for me is a feeling of empowerment. It’s a marker of strength throughout the year. It’s a celebration of a long and everchanging journey, with many successes and downfalls. For some reason, this feeling draws me towards the darker side of winter: the ice, the harsh weather, and the catharsis of the year hitting you in the face.
These songs are my survival guide for this time of year. And to be led by survival is merely to be led by hope.
Born Cold – Creeper
The drama. That’s it – that’s my reason. Creeper are the most theatrical alternative rock group in the UK right now, serving as a fantastic opening song for an alternative Christmas playlist. Their vampire-esque, chilling yet romantic aesthetic and lyricism create stories beyond what most of us expect rock music to provide. Creeper make it not only their brand, but stubbornly their mission to entertain, express and indulge in a dystopian fantasy suitable for anybody open to experience.
Fear the Sun – Siiickbrain
Continuing a slow, romantic tempo from Born Cold is Fear the Sun. But oh, not for long. If any of you are familiar with Siiickbrain then you’ll know exactly the ‘misfit’ trajectory for their unique sound. Yet, Fear the Sun remains, at its core, a romantic song. It has an ethereal quality to it, as if Siiickbrain is telling the romanticised modern-day tale of a vampire who’s reaching into their element as Winter comes closer.
ICE QUEEN – margø
I know what it looks like. I’ve either set myself up as a massive Twilight fan, or I’m about to set myself up as a massive Narnia fan. But quite honestly, I’ll take both of these if these songs make it into a revival soundtrack. Christmas this year, for me, has an intrinsic mission to tell stories, and this is exactly what these songs are doing. ICE QUEEN is dramatic, gen-z, and girl boss. It claims Winter as an accessory of a powerful sense of self and reclaims ‘cold’ as the highest form of compliment.
A Dark Place For Somewhere Beautiful – Nova Twins
Who else claims and reclaims power like it’s nobody’s business? My (ice) queens, Nova Twins. This song couldn’t more perfectly encapsulate Christmas for me, not only because Nova Twins are the gift that keep on giving, but also because this time of year can be both dark and beautiful. Humanity has always aimed to find a purpose to celebrate when morale is low, such as in times of bad harvest or throughout the dark and wintry months. Walking through my town of Freiburg now, I can see how this instinct has carried through generations: we decorate with beautiful, shimmering lights, offer great food and treats, and invite a truly festive spirit into what could be a very dark place.
Somewhere Only We Know – Lily Allen
I don’t think any Christmas playlist is complete without Lily Allen, despite how alternative you want to make it. This song is complete nostalgia: the John Lewis advert, hearing it non-stop on the way to school, and even learning to sing it in my singing classes (please, don’t ask). It is completely in-keeping with storytelling, especially if you still have a vivid memory of the iconic 2013 advert.
Sunlight On Your Skin – Cassyette
Just like Lily Allen, Cassyette is a vocalist born from otherworldly powers. This track was only released this month, almost destined to be the yin to Fear the Sun’s yang. Its ballad style offers a painful, beautiful and graphic image of this time of year, all wrapped up within this ongoing motif of immortality and strength against the havoc of this time of year.
Passenger – Boston Manor
Hear me out: the alternative version of Driving Home for Christmas? I think so. Passenger has so many levels for me: of course, it’s Boston Manor, so that’s a multifaceted level in itself. But also, it’s a very special song in my relationship, marking a difficult period of change and growth. It’s all the more special now that I think about it in this way too; as a song to mark us coming full circle and growing back into one. It’s what I’ll play as I drive to meet you again this Christmas time.
Winter Buds – Citizen
One of the main reasons Christmas is something beautiful is because of its power to form and invite human connection. Winter Buds is the song to slow dance to, bake cookies to, or chill by the fire to. It makes me want to twirl around all silly with the love of my life.
Star – WILLOW, Jabs
WILLOW has been a major obsession for me this year – the love of my year, if you will. I’m expecting to see a lot of them on my Spotify Wrapped, in fact. Something about their completely original, yet so culturally- and traditionally-infused style pops into my mind when I think ‘Christmas’. There’s a richness to WILLOW that I find really difficult to put into words, just as it's difficult to explain what Christmas means to me in general, especially as I get older and meanings and purposes change. But it’s their culturally-charged sound that ticks a very consistent box for me at this time of year: the feeling of belonging.
Cry Christmas – Mother Mother
Finally, “a Christmas song,” you cry. But you’re in for a treat! It’s just as heart-wrenching and alternative as this whole list thus far! It’s ironic and charismatic, just as anyone remotely familiar with Mother Mother would expect. It doesn’t idealise Christmas, in fact, it makes a parody of all of our traditions and predictable behaviours. It’s the anti-Christmas, and I’m completely fine with that. What’s Christmas without a little controversy anyway?
Edited by: Roxann Yus
Photos taken by: Roxann Yus
Design by: Ben Massey